What is the Legacy of This We Believe?
This We Believe: Living in the Presence of History. Eric Okdeh, Michelle Angela Ortiz, Kien Nguyen (2008-2009). This We Believe was created in celebration of Mural Arts Philadelphia’s 25th anniversary and was painted by over 500 Philadelphians. 29’x105’. (Assistants: Briana Dawkins, Michael Gamble, Andrea Pitt.)
Michelle Angela Ortiz, artist
”As a muralist this is something that I’ve always done.
Before and after This We Believe, Ortiz worked closely with the people whose stories she reflects in her art. In 2017 she began a series of work based on her conversations with immigrant mothers who were detained at the Berks Detention Center.
Karen. Michelle Angela Ortiz (2018). Familias Separadas: Harrisburg. Installation on Capitol Steps. Photo: Colibri Workshop.
Eric Okdeh, artist
”Our process is something that I keep today.
Listen to Okdeh’s TEDx talk, where he reiterates: “The seat of my engagement lies in conversations, in interviews, and then artmaking exercises.”
“Art By All.” Eric Okdeh (December 2017). TEDx Wilmington (15:05).
Phillip Adams, artist
”Out of everything, the conversations were incredible and deeply meaningful.
For Our City, Our Vets (2012), Adams and Willis Humphrey worked closely with Warrior Writers to create a mural that reflected the deeply personal experiences and perspectives of veterans in Philadelphia.
Our City, Our Vets (western wall). Phillip Adams and Willis Humphrey (2012). Philadelphia, Mural Arts Program. Photo: Steve Weinik.
Jane Golden, Founder and Executive Director, Mural Arts Philadelphia
”This is by far the most democratic mural we have ever done.Jane Golden, This We Believe dedication address, 2009
Second Citywide Mural Project
In 2012 a second Citywide Mural Project examined the nature of work. Like This We Believe, it was developed through a series of community forums facilitated in partnership with the Penn Project for Civic Engagement.
How We Fish. Social Impact Studios and Eric Okdeh (2012). Philadelphia, Mural Arts Program. Photo: Steve Weinik.
In 2015 Mural Arts launched Open Source, a citywide public art exhibition billed at the time as the largest in Philadelphia’s history. Fifteen artists from within and beyond the region created installations that reflected a range of local stories. Some artists collaborated with stakeholders to make the works. Others invited audiences to complete the pieces by interacting with them on site. Together, they explored topics including recycling, immigration, mass incarceration and restorative justice, behavioral health, arts education, and neighborhood change.
La Frontera. Ernel Martinez and Keir Johnston (2015). 2200 North 8th St. Photo: Steve Weinik.
In 2017 Mural Arts produced Monument Lab, a citywide public art and history exhibition that asked, “what is an appropriate monument for the current city of Philadelphia?” Prototype monuments designed by local and international artists and a series of public programs involved more than 250,000 people in face-to-face conversations about Philadelphia’s monumental landscape.
The Battle is Joined. Karyn Olivier (2017). Photo: Mike Reali.